TICO At 21: Celebrating Lowest Year Ever For Comp Fund Claims
By Bruce Parkinson
TICO CEO Richard Smart (centre) poses with ACTA President Wendy Paradis and Pierre Lepage, Executive Director of CATO.
The two new members of the TICO Board: Transat Commercial Director Nicole Bursey and Robert Townshend, President, Total Advantage Travel & Tours.
With a new government getting oriented in Ontario, the progress of Bill 166, which promises enhanced consumer protection and a lower regulatory burden for travel agents and wholesalers, is in a holding pattern. But there were still things to celebrate as provincial travel regulator TICO held its 21stAnnual General Meeting.
First among those things is the fact that last year saw the lowest amount paid out from the Ontario Travel Compensation Fund in its history – just $28,000 was paid out to 22 customers. Meanwhile, the Fund grew by $1.1 million in 2017 to $21.7 million, largely the result of higher fees that have been slowly phased in.
And TICO itself posted a $1.5 million surplus for the year, a very healthy result following a break-even year in 2016.
“The future of both the travel industry and travel protection is very bright,” said Richard Smart, CEO of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario. He called the lower claims “a testament to the strong collaboration of industry and government.”
While there was a welcome drop in fund claims and payouts, TICO remained busy keeping the retail industry honest. The group conducted 259 inspections last year, levied $200,000 in fines and pursued prosecutions that resulted in 36 months of jail time, 200 hours of community service and nine years of probation.
TICO took particular pride in the successful prosecution resulting from the MKI Travel failure, which cost the Fund over $2 million. Full restitution was ordered on top of jail time and other penalties to MKI principles, though it is unlikely much of that money will ever be returned.
Smart reported a “slow but continued decline” in Ontario registrants, driven by consolidation and “new business models.” But the number of Ontarians taking TICO exams grew by 12% to 6,300.
Going forward, the 15-person TICO Board will be reduced to 11. That will take effect following the 2019 TICO AGM. The lowered number will see ACTA- and CATO-nominated board members drop from three to two each, the number of ministerial appointees drop from five to four, and the number of elected representatives from the registrant group decline from three to two. TICO says the move will save money.
As well, trade association appointees will now have a two-year term rather than one, while the three-year term for elected members will be reduced to two years in future.
There are two new faces on the TICO Board for 2018: Transat Commercial Director Nicole Bursey is replacing the retired Denise Heffron as a CATO appointee, while Robert Townshend, President Total Advantage Travel & Tours was acclaimed to an elected position.
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.